NHTSA Drunk Driving Survey: Data Not Complete Yet
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is conducting another in a series of surveys regarding the prevalence of drug and alcohol use among drivers, and they have been using off-duty Fort Worth police officers to help conduct it. Their efforts have resulted in a large number of complaints from drivers, in part because many of them had no idea that the survey was voluntary when uniformed officers pulled them over. The reaction was so strong that the Fort Worth Police Chief posted a statement of apology on the Department’s Facebook page, saying, “Any future federal survey of this nature, which jeopardizes the public’s trust, will not be approved for the use of Fort Worth police.”
The current survey is based on a similar survey undertaken by the agency in 2007, as well as similar surveys the NHTSA has been conducting on a regular basis since 1973. As part of the survey, after being pulled over, every driver who participated was subjected to a “passive alcohol sensor,” which is a small device that is able to detect alcohol in the air around the face. This has been compared to observing or smelling the area, except that the sensor collects pertinent data. It was done before giving informed consent. Besides taking drivers out of traffic and leading them to the survey site, police had no other contact with the drivers.
Those who agreed to participate received $10 if they gave researchers an oral fluid sample and another $50 if they gave a blood sample to a licensed phlebotomist in a rented van. The current survey, which was conducted in 60 cities and counties nationwide, is almost complete. Other than the controversial Fort Worth survey site, other Texas sites include Dallas City and County and Hood County.
According to the NHTSA, nationally in 2012, the most recent year for which such data is available, 10,322 people died in accidents in which someone was driving drunk. That is an increase of 4.6 percent over the 9,865 killed in 2011. That means a person is killed by a drunk driver every 53 minutes. Texas saw the largest increase in drunken-driving fatalities between 2011 and 2012, with a 6.6 percent increase, from 1,216 in 2011 to 1,296 in 2012.
The Texas Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers at Hill Law Firm have represented a great many victims of drunk driving accidents in court cases against people who have chosen to drive drunk or those who have encouraged others to do so. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident, call Hill Law Firm today.